Christine is an artist and educator.
Episode 72: I was sent Christine Osinski‘s brilliant Summer Days Staten Island (Damiani Editore) a few years ago for an American Suburb X review. At the time, I was looking at loads of different work, but my focus was much more contemporary than the images that would materiliaze on my doorstep and within the pages of Christine’s gorgeous book.
I bring this up as in some ways, Christine’s Staten book took me back to the era of my childhood and though I am not prone to waddling through nostalgias real or imagined unless to specifically encounter that very topic, I felt something pleasant in the work, something naive of my memories of America and perhaps a lament for a certain carefree existence that predated bills, pandemics, and the raging moments that would later litter my adult life.
In the book, there are vague collective memories within-summertime with dirt bikes, American bungalow homes, and empty street corners with nary a camera or down-looking zombie-walking smartphone user. There was a quiet bliss manufactured in my mind about the end of the drive-in, the mall food court, and the smell of evaporating beads of sweat on bodies coated in a thick veneer of summer sunlight. I could almost hear the pervading early morning start of the lawnmower and the crackle of a radio blaring out from the garage of some grey-scaled putterer putting to use his retirement years commenting on baseball scores while busily trying to summon the last screw from a jam jar fastidiously held by its lid nailed to the underside of the wooden garage shelf amongst the many other nuts and bolts and assorted puttering ephemera.
These are feelings that I get very rarely when looking at work. I feel it strongly with Mark Steinmetz for example and perhaps Tod Papageorge and Mimi Plumb. It is not to suggest an aversion to the future or the present, but rather it is an exercize in culling the good parts of the American past alongside images of a place that I do not know, but produced during a time that I can imagine easily. Perhaps it is nostalgia after all. Is there a shame in that? Time as with all things, will tell.
Christine and I spoke about her background growing up in the midwest and her early days in the Yale University system before it achieved its significant status for photography that it holds today. We spoke about her work in Chicago and Staten Island and the course she took to get there. We spoke about Walker Evans in anecdote. We also spoke about the process of scanning one’s own archive and the possibilities within. I was completely taken with her openness and her reading of the landscape in which her work is situated.